Westmonster is more right-wingery from a millionaire businessman
‘Millionaire who owns diamond mine launches anti-establishment website’. So might read a Daily Mash headline upon news of Brexit money-man Arron Banks’s new website, Westmonster.
Whether it fares as well as his other online venture, the kangaroo-themed car insurance website GoSkippy.com, remains to be seen.
But the mantra that Banks is ‘anti-establishment’ really must be put to bed. Let’s review the facts:
1. Arron Banks is a millionaire businessman with a background in the financial sector. His little business empire includes an insurance company and a diamond mine in South Africa. His wealth puts him comfortably into the top one per cent.
2. Arron Banks holds assets in offshore tax havens. As the Guardian has reported, Banks was named in the Panama Papers as holding assets in Gibraltar and the British Virgin Islands. (There is no suggestion he has broken the law.) Companies House records 37 companies set up with variations of his name, a fact he has yet to explain.
3. Arron Banks was a donor to the Conservative Party, how much was giventhough he might have lied about. The Tory Party – that great threat to the establishment.
4. Arron Banks switched to donating to UKIP, to the tune of £1 million ahead of the 2015 general election. UKIP’s manifesto for that vote promised to slash taxes for the wealthy, abolish inheritance tax, and scrap human rights laws. Take that, establishment!
5. Arron Banks financed Leave.EU, the unofficial pro-Brexit campaign in the EU referendum, spending £7.5 million. ‘The establishment’ were split on Brexit, as Leave campaigners (nearly all of them renegade Tories) were keen to remind us, pointing to this of that business backing Brexit. Nearly the whole British press has been trashing the EU daily for a quarter of a century. How rebellious to echo their sentiments.
Given a record like this, it’s little surprise that a look at Westmonster reveals it to be well within the bounds of more of the same, only worse.
So far the site offers stories:
- Bashing the EU
- Bashing Muslims and immigrants
- Bashing Labour
- Supporting Brexit
- Promoting Nigel Farage
No doubt it’s economic message will be as comfortably neoliberal as the rest of British public debate, rather than championing trade unions, workers’ rights, better wages and working conditions, regulating business, especially the financial sector, public ownership, etc. (Prove me wrong, Arron.)
This is hardly surprising for a website produced by a former Tory and UKIP donor and member of the one per cent.
Only in one respect is Westmonster offering something new: it promises to be ‘pro-Trump’, a rarity in Britain so far, though many have flirted with this position.
But how ‘anti-establishment’ is it to support the most powerful man in the world?
Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.